Andrey has spoken to Arsenal player about his current form. Especially last season, Arsenal fans became slightly disillusioned with our Russian magician. He entered the fray quite explosively in 2009, and ever since then, he has failed to live up to those performances. Perhaps it is due to his fitness, or the fact that Russia failed to make it to the 2010 World Cup, who knows. Perhaps he just isn’t as good as those performances suggested.
The thing with Andrey is, that he has always been a bit hit and miss. It is why Gooners get so frustrated with him. He shows glimpses of brilliance, but then for the rest of the match he seems almost anonymous. It seems like he just doesn’t try. But Wenger has always spoken highly of him. He has always said that his attitude in training is spot on, and that he always gives 100%.
Recently, Andrey has had to settle for fewer starts, and has often featured as a substitute. He seems to have taken well to this though. In fact, I actually think that Arshavin has looked a much better player this season, and towards the tail end of last season, than he has done for a long time. Perhaps getting ‘dropped’ did the trick.
But what does Andrey think?
“They should expect more from me, of course,
“They should expect some more tricks, goals and unbelievable passes.
“To be honest I am still expecting more from me as well. But believe me, I do everything I can do.
“I just have to give everything I can at the moment, just on the pitch. I want to score more goals and bring my team to the title.”
With the arrival of Gervinho, and the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it seems as though Arshavin has been somewhat forgotten. But I still think that there is more to come from the Russian. He is too good a player to simply vanish. I do hope that he regains that scintillating form that we saw in 2009.
Fabianski 6 Couldn’t do anything about the goal, but his kicking was woeful. There was a collective nervousness around the stadium when the ball fell to his feet – that isn’t present when Szczesny is in between the sticks. Needs to up his game if he is going to displace his fellow countryman as our first choice keeper.
Gibbs 5.5 Not great from Kieran. As one of the more experienced players on the pitch, I expected Gibbs to play better than he did. He was poor defensively and his crossing was abysmal. Did well to head home for the equaliser, and score his first goal for the club. Rather odd that he didn’t celebrate though.
Djourou 4 The worst player on the pitch. I was really unhappy with Johan, his positioning was poor and he was largely at fault for their goal. It is a shame really, because Djourou looked like he was turning into a quality player last season, but it seems as though he has regressed.
Miquel 7 A solid performance from the youngster, put in a few excellent tackles to nullify the Shrewsbury attack. He looked better than he has done for many games. One for the future, hopefully.
Jenkinson 6.5 Good going forward but a bit poor in defence (surely he can’t be an arsenal player…!). His crossing was excellent. His ball in for Gibbs’ goal was sublime. He was always an attacking outlet and provided width. He won’t be displacingSsagna anytime soon, but he is a reliable cover.
Coquelin 8 I was impressed with his performance. He ran the game in the centre of midfield. He managed to transform defence into attack very well. His vision was excellent and he often spread the play out wide with some Gerrard-esque passing. He is an exciting prospect.
Frimpong 7 Not quite back to the form we saw against Liverpool (before he got sent off) but much better than he was against Swansea. Helped protect the back four well and made a few decent runs. Hopefully he can continue his development and push for a regular place in the first team.
Benayoun 7.5 A classy display from the Israeli. At times he couldn’t find the killer ball and kept it for too long, but he managed to link up well with our attackers. He looked increasingly dangerous as the second half wore on and overall I was pleased with his performance. He managed to grab a goal to make it 3-1 and kill off the game.
Oxlade-Chamberlain 8.5MOTM He was outstanding. He always looked a threat and seemed to run past their defenders with ease. He showed sublime skill and immense pace. Hopefully he can provide good competition for Theo. People seem to forget the likes of Chamberlain, Miyaichi and Jenkinson when we think of the players who we brought into the club in the transfer window. They may not play as much as Arteta or Gervinho, but they are hot prospects for the future and will almost certainly be regulars for the club in the next few seasons. It is good that we are still continuing our policy of developing youth as well as bringing in experience.
Park 5.5 He was a bit anonymous, but showed that he is good on the ball. I am already preferring him to Bendtner, but that is not exactly a hard thing to manage. At times he managed to link up well with the midfield, and looks like he can provide some good cover for RVP.
Chamakh 5 He started the game well, but thats about all he did. For a player of his quality, he should be able to cause a team like Shrewsbury many more problems. It is a shame to see him under-performing. He gave the ball away far to often, and did not dominate in the air. He should have attacked the ball more, and he did not make enough penetrating runs for my liking.
Ryo 6.5 Even though he was only on the pitch for 20 or so minutes, his ball control and electric pace was very evident. He made a few quality runs and managed to get into some dangerous positions. He, along with Chamberlain, will hopefully push for a first team place this season.
Ozyakup 7 Looks like he has a bit of skill and did well to assist Benayoun’s goal. Again, one for the future.
It just keeps happening doesn’t it? But this time it was different, the team looked good and we were playing with confidence, composure and we were controlling the game. It was not as if we were lacklustre like we have been in previous weeks. But lady luck just wasn’t on our side. People say that your luck will even out over the season, but it just doesn’t seem like that is the case with Arsenal. Three of Blackburn’s goals were scored due to little skill of their own – 2 own goals and an offside goal. I really don’t know what we have to do to win games anymore. You would have thought that if you scored 3 goals and play good football away from home, you would at least come away with a point.
So what happened?
The first half was good. We started very brightly and created a few really good chances. We managed to hit home after a fantastic through ball to put Gervinho through on goal. It was by no means an easy finish, but he did well. We continued to control the game, and we looked dangerous. And then Blackburn scored. It was out of the blue, but to be fair to Yakubu, it was a quality finish, but totally against the run of play and they did not deserve to be level.
We responded well though, and kept the pressure on. Soon enough, Ramsey cut back for new boy Arteta to smash home. It was a sublime finish, and it was no more than we deserved. We continued to control the rest of the half. Gervinho looked very dangerous, and just before the half drew to a close, he had a chance to put van Persie through for an almost certain goal. Instead of passing to our captain, Gervinho took on a shot, but his effort was blocked. This would have put is 3-1 up. Unfortunately, we would rue this missed chance.
We started poorly in the second half. Arshavin lost the ball 3 times in a very short period. He gave away a freekick, and sure enough, we were punished. The freekick was delivered in, and unfortunately for Song, he could do nothing about it, and it struck his leg and bobbled past an outstretched Szczesny. There are a number of very irritating things about this goal. Firstly, it was an own goal. Secondly, it was against the run of play. We were the team in control in the first half. Thirdly, I am not even convinced that it was a free kick in the first place. Finally, Blackburn tried to play a quick free kick and the referee decided that they could not do this, but he still gave them another chance. Why should they get another shot at it? But we had to accept it, and continue playing.
For the next 20 minutes, most of our players were anonymous, and Blackburn had a good spell, yet they did not look like scoring. But then they got another set piece. Before it was taken, I noticed that there was no one at the back post. The ball was played to the backpost, and sure enough, the ball was fired across the face of the goal and tapped in by Yakubu. Again, a very frustrating goal. There are two issues here. First and foremost, Yakubu was offside as the ball was played to him. Secondly, I really am not a fan of zonal marking. We had about 9 players in the box defending the corner, yet the ball into the box still found an unmarked player. Zonal marking is also a bad idea for another reason. Players will always be able to say that they are not at fault for the goal. They will claim that they were marking their zone, and that they were doing their job.
And then came the fourth goal – it was laughable. We had the ball in the Blackburn box, but failed to do anything useful with it. Koscielny lost the ball, so admirably sprinted back the length of the pitch. Blackburn countered well, but the chance should have been nullified by Djourou – he failed to win the ball with a sliding challenge. The responsibility then fell to Song, but he was lucky not to give away a penalty. Thankfully, Koscielny had managed to sprint all the way back to our box by this time, but unfortunately for him, all he managed to do was deflect the ball into the net. It really was a comedy of errors, and I was actually laughing by the time I realised the ball was in the net yet again.
We did have time to try to rescue something though. We finished with a flurry of chances, and looked as though we may pull off a fantastic comeback. Chamakh was brought into the fray, and immediately we looked like a better side. Van Persie started playing well. Gervinho continued to work his magic, and it was only a matter of time before we pulled one back to make it 4-3. Van Persie put in a beautiful cross and Chamakh managed to find some space between the two centre backs to head home. It was a great finish. I think we have missed Marouane’s aerial ability.
We then managed to work a great chance to van Persie, who was denied by a good save from Robinson. Again, from a corner, a van Persie header was parried away. Chamakh had a great chance with his head, but managed to put the header wide of the goal. Santos also put in a fantastic cross to Mertesacker, who headed over from 6 yards. It seemed as though it was over, but we had one last chance. The ball was lobbed forward and headed onto Walcott by van Persie. Theo then ran towards Robinson. He managed to chip the ball over the keeper, who dived into Walcott – the away fans screamed it in unison, but the penalty was not given. It was a contentious decision, but the ref probably got it right. Robinson dived into Walcott and did not get the ball, but it was a bit theatrical. Walcott was forced to jump over the keeper, and subsequently, his chance of getting on the end of his chip was nullified.
But what can we take from the game?
We played very well in parts. Were it not for some poor decisions, and two own goals, we would have won this game. We responded well when they scored, and apart from that twenty minute spell at the beginning of the second half, we always looked threatening. We did not look like a team that were lacking confidence. I really hope that this result does not affect our performances in the future. It looked as though we had turned a corner, and we need to try to take the positives from this game, and just hope that the results start coming.
Last season, it took 11 matches for Arsenal to fall to 3 defeats. This campaign it has taken just 5. What is so disappointing about today is that we played well and yet still didn’t get a point. Wenger should have ordered the team to sit tight at half time and grind out the victory. This may not be the Arsenal way, but when the chips are down, you need results.
The first half was one to forget. It was painful to watch. We could not keep the ball. Koscielny, Gibbs and Song were the main culprits. Dortmund controlled the first 30 minutes, but it was Arsenal who had the first real opportunity of the game. Gervinho was through on goal, and was only denied by a fantastic last ditch tackle. Dortmund had a chance of their own soon after. After some poor defending, the Dortmund player had got past Szczesny, only to see his effort saved off the line by Sagna. I thought we were about to concede. We were playing very poorly. Theo was anonymous for most of the half up until he assisted RVP’s opener. It was a quality through ball through to our captain who was composed enough to finish it with his right foot. To be honest, we did not deserve to be leading at half time.
We were better in the second half. We defended better and Koscielny and Song kept the ball much better. But we still failed to control the match. However, given that we were away to the German champions with an under-strength side, we couldn’t have expected much better. The game was being played in our half, and it was frustrating to watch. By the 70th minute, it was clear that we were trying to hang on to our 1-0 lead. We did, however, have a few good moments where Gervinho or RVP got the ball and showed their quality. Szczesny was confident and at times it looked like he would keep us in the game. It looked as though we would manage to scrape a 1-0 win. And what a win it would have been. Unfortunately for us, Song conceded a needless freekick in our half. Although we managed to clear the first delivery well, there was nothing anyone could do about the second ball. It was a beautiful strike that no keeper in the world would have been able to save.
What does 1-1 mean though?
Away from home in the champions league against the German champions is a difficult match. It would have been a fantastic result if we had managed to get 3 points. But a draw is not the end of the world. It means that if we can win our home games and get at least a point in our remaining away games, we will most probably qualify first in our group. It is the nature of the draw that is not easy to take. The team needs a morale boost, and conceding a late goal like we did is not going to help things.
Well that was weird. What was becoming a frustrating half has ended with a rather fortuitous goal by Arshavin. To be honest, it is no more than the Russian deserves. Andrey has been quality in the first half. He has worked very hard and has shown that he is a quality player.
I have been very impressed with our two debutants. Mertesacker has put in a few excellent tackles to extinguish the Swansea attack. Arteta has shown that he can provide an attacking threat and has looked very sharp.
Szczesny has been largely untroubled, save for a sublime block to deny Swansea an early goal. It looked as though we were on top and were the better team. We were creating most of the chances, and were quite frankly unlucky not to be in the lead after Arshavin put Theo through on goal, who was only denied by a goal line clearance.
Frimpong has been a bit poor. His touch has not been up to its usual standard, and has given the ball away a bit too much for my liking. It looked as though it would be a frustrating end to the half, but Arshavin had other ideas. I can only describe the goal as weird. The Swansea keeper had the ball in his hands, and threw the ball onto the heels of the defender. The ball fell to Arshavin, who subsequently placed the ball in the net from a very tight angle. Lets hope for a few more goals in the next 45…
Arsenal’s new signing Per Mertesacker hopes that his transition to the Premier league will be smooth. He hopes that he will be able to adapt quickly. The English game is known for its fast pace and physical nature. It is often the case that players that move to the Premier League struggle with the high demands of English football.
Mertesacker has suggested that he is relishing the opportunity to play in the best league in the world. He hopes that his experience, both at an international level and also for his club, will put him in good stead for the challenges that lie ahead.
Here’s what he had to say:
“It is a little bit easier if you have played a World Cup for Germany and I hope I can use my experiences in my career.
“We met England and that is a great experience I have. But I also have to improve myself and that should be my first thought.
“It’s exciting to be here but I have a lot of experience in football so that is OK for me. I am very happy and I am very glad to be here.
“Arsenal is one of the top teams in Europe and I have been looking out for Arsenal since I got my first jersey when I was ten or 12. Arsenal has always been special for me.”
His comments are encouraging. What really impresses me is that he still thinks he can improve. At 26, some footballers may think that they have it all, and that they are the best they can be. Mertesacker is still looking to improve his game, and this is good to hear. The German is already a quality centre back, and will undoubtedly form a strong partnership with Vermaelen (when he returns from injury). If he can improve his game, he will probably become one of the best centre backs in the world.
Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, has suggested that Cahill will join Arsenal soon. Here’s what he said:
“I totally understand he wants to play at the highest level and Arsenal are an elite club, a club I think he would probably slot into with tremendous style because he is such an accomplished player.
This is encouraging news. I was slightly worried after the whole £6 Million bid issue yesterday. I had worried that Coyle would be offended and decide not to enter in further negotiations with Wenger. Coyle’s comments seem to suggest that the relationship between the two clubs is still good. This is probably due to the loan spell of a certain Jack Wilshere.
Coyle continued with:
“He is more than capable of playing in a team of that stature, but it has to be done at the right business for Bolton Wanderers.
“It was way, way short and I must stress the word way, as it was a million miles short of what Gary Cahill’s valuation is.”
I can understand where Coyle is coming from here. We experienced this with the whole Fabregas situation. If you are going to lose a player, you want to do so with dignity and make sure that you get the right price for him. Hopefully Wenger will come to his senses and realise that Cahill is a necessity, and be prepared to pay at least £10 million for him.
For all we know, the deal could have already been done, and so this would merely be speculation (bear in mind that the Jenkinson deal was made months before it was officially announced on the Arsenal website), but it seems as though the Cahill situation is a waste of time. Let me just clarify that. I am not saying I do not want Cahill at the club, quite the contrary. I am just saying that it could be, and should be sorted out as quickly as possible, seeing as we need to sign another two players on top of Cahill, and we are running out of time in this transfer window. Hopefully Cahill will join as soon as possible, and we can focus our attentions on a quality midfielder and attacker.
Wenger has stated that he will be looking for a striker as well as a defender and a midfielder. Due to the fact that Bendtner will almost definitely leave the club, the Arsenal strike force will be quite light. Our first choice striker, and club captain, Robin van Persie is clearly not going to be replaced. But unfortunately for the Dutchman, his injury record is not exactly brilliant. Hence, we need a quality backup. Apart from van Persie, the only other central striker we have is Marouane Chamakh, who has looked poor in recent weeks. Even if Chamakh does improve his form, it is likely that he will be unavailable during the African Cup of Nations. There is also the possibility of finally seeing Walcott in a more central role, but it is clear that Wenger still needs to buy.
Here’s what Wenger had to say:
“We are looking for one more striker because we know he [Bendtner] will leave.
“We will be short this season because we also have Chamakh leaving for the African Cup of Nations.”
Furthermore, as I said earlier, Bendtner has one foot out of the club, and his current ankle injury wont affect his transfer. Wenger said the following:
“He has an ankle problem. It is not a bad injury and not threatening, so he won’t be out for two months. But I cannot give you a day that he will be back.”
So who could Wenger bring in? Here is a list of possible transfers: Moussa Sow, Hazard, Damaio, Remy, Benzema and Podolski. Of course this list is not all encompassing. To be honest I would be happy with any of these players.
So we now need to buy a striker, a defender and a midfielder. In my opinion, this is the least that we need to do, to ensure that we challenge this year. We have already seen how depleted we are in midfield at the moment, and with a few more injuries to key players (RvP?), things could get really bad. However, if we do buy three quality squad/first team players, I will be content.
It has been reported that Bastian Schweinsteiger may be making is way to the Premier League. With the departure of Fabregas and Nasri, Wenger has said he will look to bolster the squad before the end of the transfer window. Wenger has stated that the main areas he will be trying to improve are defence and midfield, with the latter being the priority.
The Bayern Munich midfielder is clearly the sort of player that Arsenal fans have been longing for. We need experience, ready made quality that will fit straight into our first team now. Yes, we have bought the likes of Miyaichi and Chamberlain, who will most probably be great players in a few years, but at the moment, we need to keep our credibility. The 35 million price tag is by far the largest that has ever been associated with Wenger since his time at the club. But with the large amount of funds available from the transfers of Cesc and Samir, it is not as if Wenger does not have the money.
The 27 year old has played over 250 games for Bayern since 2002, and 88 appearances for his country. He is a quality player that would shine in the Premier League. But what are the chances that he will actually come? To be honest, I’m not sure. My first instincts tell me that the chances are pretty poor. Why would he want to come to Arsenal? He has enjoyed a lot of success with Bayern in the German League. Manchester United were said to be interested in the German international, yet nothing materialised there. However, last season was not great for Bayern. They finished third in the league and risk losing a few of their star players. Perhaps Schweinsteiger wants a new challenge and wants to play in the best league in the world. It is a possibility, even if the chances are against us.
“Insert player name has suffered a minor setback in his rehabilitation, but should be back to fitness within 2 to 3 weeks” is a phrase that all Arsenal fans have got used to. We all know what happened to Thomas Vermaelen last campaign. He had a brilliant first season with Arsenal two years ago, and many thought he would build on that to become one of best defenders in the league. But Vermaelen was constantly troubled by injuries and could not return to first team action for a long time. Many cite this particular issue as the reason Arsenal failed to win any silverware last season.
This week we are focusing on Jack Wilshere, who was expected to be out for a few days when he first suffered an ankle injury 3 weeks ago. Wilshere had an extremely impressive season last year and everyone thought he would continue to impress this season. Unfortunately, he seems to be struggling with this ankle injury at the moment and, according to reports, is back in a boot and will be out for a further two to three weeks at least.
Wilshere was substituted seven minutes into our pre-season friendly against New York Red Bulls at the end of July. At the time, the extent of the injury was unknown and after an ankle scan a few days later Wilshere himself Tweeted:
“Ankle scan just showed some inflammation. Hopefully will settle down in a few days.”
By “a few days,” Jack obviously meant 5/6 weeks, with Arsène Wenger confirming in a press conference that Wilshere is set to miss two extremely important games that could define our season at such an early stage:
“Unfortunately Wilshere is not ready [to play against Udinese or Manchester United] so that is bad news for us and adds to the players we miss with transfers and some through injuries.
“He’s in a boot again, so that means he will at least be out for two or three weeks.
“I don’t know if we are back to square one or for how long he will be out.”
I am hoping that he will not follow in the footsteps of Vermaelen. We need Jack in the majority of our games if we are to challenge for anything this year. It seems as though things are going from bad to worse at the moment at Arsenal. It is important to remain confident though. Yes, we have had a torrid start to the campaign. But look at it this way – last year we started well, yet won nothing. Manchester United on the other hand, never seem to hit their top gear until after January, and then become almost unstoppable by May.
Now I’m not saying we should play badly, or that its okay that we are playing badly. I’m suggesting that we need a bit of perspective and to not jump to any conclusions. After all, who knows what Wenger will do in the remaining days of the transfer window. It is likely that Wilshere will recover from this injury and be the player he was last year. It is not all doom and gloom.